As the sun rose on Montreal on Saturday morning, there were no doubt massive quantities of sunscreen being applied to the oh-so pale skin of thousands of metalheads. Each about to brave two days of sunshine to catch some of the best and heaviest music on the planet over the course of two days of Heavy Montreal.

After taking a hiatus for 2017 the festival was ready for a triumphant return and headbangers from all walks no doubt had the highest of expectations.

The walk towards the temporary festival grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau was sure to be full of long black hair and black t-shirts and… tricorn hats and eyepatches?

Oh that’s right, Alestorm was playing. Blasting their own unique brand heaviness the “pirate metal” band performed songs about drinking and piracy in front of a massive 10 foot tall inflatable rubber ducky. Yes that ducky ended up in the pit. Yes that ducky ended up very dead.

Allegaeon brought a more “pure” brand of metal, their technical style and complex timing changes an absolute aural assault on the fans. Judging from the number of people crammed around the trees surrounding the “Scene du Jardin” the band could have easily drawn on a bigger stage without issue.

After abruptly cancelling his performance the night before in Toronto, there was a giant looming question mark (probably an upside-down question mark) about whether or not the iconic Marilyn Manson would be making it to the main stage or not.

Despite it being unclear how much of his pale and sickly demeanor is reality versus performance these days, Manson managed to find the energy to thoroughly deliver. Streaked in black face paint and undergoing multiple costume changes, Manson seemed somewhat irritable at first on stage but he quickly warmed up to the Montreal crowd. Even an absolute deluge of rain would not stop the show from rolling forwards.

It was left to Rob Zombie to close things off on Saturday night. Which he did with his usual horror-infused theatrics. Zombie has recently been performing selected tracks from White Zombie so fans were even treated to the likes of “Thunder Kiss ‘65” and “More Human Than Human”. Every track accompanied with smash cut edited visuals of stock footage, anime and horror films. There was also an inflatable alien race (?) because, why not? This is Rob Zombie we’re talking about.

And so, the drenched crowded filtered back to the metro and mentally prepared themselves for another day of heavy metal madness.

There is no bigger name in Quebec metal than Voivod and with a new album right around the corner it was no surprise to see a massive crowd gathered around the main stage to see the local rock gods tear it up.

If Alestorm came from the high-seas, Gloryhammer came from outer space. As they frequently reminded us. They came here to sing about hammers, and that’s what they did. They also made sure that a festival-goer was carried all the way to the bar and back to the stage to deliver a beer to the beer-fueled cyborg in the band. As you do.

The burly men of Heavy Mania were also in full effect, with local wrestlers (mostly from the IWS promotion) bodyslamming and elbow-dropping each other for what was an amazing alternative to music if nothing was up your alley on the stages.

The crowd that assembled for Gojira was loud and massive. Jets of smoke and flame punctuating the heavier moments from the French outfits intense set. With all due respect to the other headliners, it was Gojira who was the most pure metal of them all in my opinion. And judging from the size and reaction of the audience, the diehards appreciated their talent.

When Avenged Sevenfold had to cancel their appearance due to illness, we were informed that their replacement would be Limp Bizkit.

I was instantly intrigued. Limp Bizkit was an omnipresent force of the late 90s and early 2000s. I had never seen them live. I had heard that back in the day Fred Durst was occasionally hit and miss in his performances as their front-man.

With a nearly fully intact lineup (including DJ Lethal who just returned this year, but minus Sam Rivers who is being subbed for on this tour by new addition Tsuzumi Okai) the band was in fine form. Durst and company seem well aware of their current role and the current year and most of the banter was filled with tongue and cheek humour. This included apologies to the fans for not being Avenged Sevenfold and also jokes about how cheap it was to book Limp Bizkit these days.

Somehow it was pitch perfect and a crowd that seemed skeptical at first warmed up quickly (it certainly helped that Wes Borland climbed directly into the mosh pit to shred through their second song of the night “Break Stuff” while Durst climbed on the guard rail to engage the fans as well).

Overall, it seems that sometimes taking a year off can be a good thing. Heavy Montreal delivered on coming back bigger and better than ever and re-cementing themselves as one of the premiere heavy music festivals in the world.

Keith does all sorts of things here on, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

Sarah has an Instagram: @femalewalter but she mostly uses it to follow famous puppies and also post pictures of our puppy Zelda.

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